Giving thanks for my successful mission to Uganda

February 18, 2024

tims blog






I first met Henry Musana in the summer of 2003 when our paths crossed in the very small town of Kyela in Tanzania. Henry was on a solo prayer mission, and I was leading a team of ministers on our first trip to Africa. On the basis of that first encounter, Henry asked me to bring my teachings to his home country of Uganda. I ministered in Uganda for the first time in 2004, and over the years, Henry and I bonded both as friends and fellow gospel workers. I officiated at his wedding to Maureen in 2005 and his ordination in 2007, and I have had the pleasure of watching his five children grow into their own walk of faith. Henry's growth as a man of God is echoed by the growth of his ministry, Gospel Extension Mission, and the continual development of new leaders to serve in the many GEM Sanctuary churches throughout Uganda and Kenya.

The last trip I made to Uganda was in 2019 when I made a short, three-day visit with Evan Pyle on the heels of a mission to Tanzania. My last extended visit was in 2017. Even then, I believed that the student had in many ways surpassed his teacher. The lesson that I feel most equipped to teach is that a man's ministry will go only as far as his dependence upon God allows, and this is a lesson that Henry has taken to heart. Throughout the world there are "men of the cloth" who "such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly" (Rom. 16:18). Such an accusation could never be truthfully made of my friend. He is an example of a living sacrifice, and I am proud to be associated with him.

I cannot tell you how many young boys and girls Henry has rescued from a life on the streets. He has housed and fed them, and given them the chance for a better life. Ask him how he has managed to finance such a challenging and demanding ministry and he will tell you it is through the grace and provision of God. No doubt there are skeptics who will roll their eyes and speculate about a secret cache of foreign support. But their doubts only expose their own lack of faith that such a God exists.

For many years, the burden of trusting God for the sustenance of GEM has fallen almost entirely on Henry's shoulders. But after years of faithful mentoring, Henry is now seeing more and more young men and women rise up to stand and walk on their own faith. It for these young ministers that Henry invited me to return to Uganda to teach my seminar on The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ. This was my 13th trip to Uganda, and I am happy to report that it was the most successful to date.


Yes, I am being facetious. There is nothing that makes me have to steel my mind quite like walking down that narrow aisle to take my seat on an airplane. My trip to Uganda encompassed five flights - from Baton Rouge to Houston, Houston to Chicago, Chicago to Belgium, Belgium to Rwanda, and Rwanda to Uganda. At every stop I had less than one hour to deplane, find my way to the next gate, and board again. I flew out of Baton Rouge on Thursday at 12:00 PM Central Standard Time (CST) and arrived in Uganda on Friday at 11:30 PM East Africa Time (EAT) or 2:30 PM CST; 26 hours after I left Baton Rouge.

For me, the drastic time change is the hardest part about international travel. Even though the clock said it was past midnight, I started waking up as soon as we arrived at Henry's house. I was beyond tired (I can never get more than fitful bursts of sleep on a plane) but I could not convince my body that it was time to sleep. When it was time for breakfast around 8 AM EAT, it was 11:00 PM CST and I really wanted to go back to bed. This was the case throughout my time in Uganda. I managed about three hours of sleep each night, and every morning it felt like I was getting out of bed at midnight. But I knew it would take my body about nine days to adjust (one day for every hour of change), and there was nothing to do but soldier on. Thankfully, Henry knows the challenges of international travel and he had nothing scheduled for me on Saturday.

Henry had told me that his church would be ending their fasting period the next day with a communion service at church, and he had asked me to teach the early morning service and the regular service at his church. With this in mind, I was inspired to spend most of the day and well into the night writing a sermon based in Luke 9:23, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." I knew the presentation would be "live-streamed" on Facebook, and that made me doubly-nervous. I like standing behind a camera, not in front of it! But thanks be to God and my skilled interpreters, the teachings went very well.

On Sunday night, Henry and Maureen along with their three older children took me to the Ndere Cultural Center to watch an amazing presentation of Ugandan tribal dancing. If you are ever in town, I highly recommend it!


Henry wanted to beat the morning traffic (we Americans have no idea what a real traffic jam is like!) and so before sunrise on Monday, he and I started our drive eastward toward Iganga where I'd be teaching my seminar. Along the way we planned to stop at some of the young churches that Henry has planted.

Our first stop in Kasawo went as expected. The structure of the church was very basic, just like the very first GEM Sanctuary in Nyanama. The church itself was empty but I met the young pastor named Barbra Mukisa.

Things were different when we arrived at the next church in Kyamagwa. This time a group of people were waiting to greet us. This was a real I should know this by now moment for me, to realize that I need to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3:15). They came expecting to hear and receive something of value and although I never like to count on it, I am always grateful for inspiration-of-the-moment.

Our next stop was in Jinja where I met one of Henry's most faithful pastors, Mary Nabirye. From there we drove north to Bulopa, once again fully expecting to find an empty church. On the way over, I fell into a deep sleep in the car and I woke to the sound of many children cheering our arrival. Bear in mind, I had not had a full night of sleep since I left Baton Rouge, and according to my body clock it was the middle of the night. Believe me, I struggled to get my bearings! The children had put together a presentation to welcome me, and once again my mind scrambled to come up with something to say. (Later I tried to write down the parts I remembered because I knew the message came from somewhere beyond me. Some of my best moments have come in talking to children about the gospel.)

There was one more church to visit and we drove to the town of Mulama. A group of about 20 adults and 20 children were gathered with their pastor Paul Mwesigwa under a tree, their regular meeting place. I was very touched. Afterwards, I asked Henry what it might cost to purchase a piece of land and erect a church like the others we had seen. The amount was "doable" and I committed WTWH to the project.

It's an odd thing about me, but I can be very generous so long as it is MY idea, that is to say, I sense it is the Lord who is prompting me to give. When the Lord says Do it, my answer better be Yes! But when someone pesters me for a financial gift, nine times out of ten, my answer will be No. I have a good sense for knowing when people are relying on me more than on God. I want you to know that Henry did not ask me for anything.


Late Tuesday afternoon, Henry and I checked into our respective hotel rooms in Iganga. That evening and through Wednesday I stayed in my room to refine my lessons. Meanwhile Henry had his hands full with last-minute preparations for the seminar and helping the students get settled into the house he had rented for that purpose. I cannot begin to describe all the work that was required of Henry, but there were over 70 participants (he had planned for 50) and each one needed to be housed and fed. Others were struggling with transportation. WTWH carried the financial burden of this seminar, but paying the bills was only a small portion of the overall challenge. Again, I appreciate Henry for all his hard work.

The class began on Wednesday morning. We assembled under a tent in the courtyard of the rented house. I planned to teach using the PowerPoint presentation I prepared especially for this audience. Everything looked great on the large-screen TV we had acquired for the seminar. But before we even got started, we had a problem. My laptop had not been plugged in properly, and by the time the introductions were over, the battery was drained. Thankfully I had brought a set of printed notes as well, and by the second session, the laptop was sufficiently recharged to start using the PowerPoint.

I taught from Wednesday to Friday with Henry providing interpretation. Our years of working together made it possible for us to take a unique approach. Usually I expect my interpreter to translate exactly what I say without adding or subtracting anything to it. I have had great trouble in the past with interpreters twisting my teachings to suit their own ideas. But I knew Henry and I were on the same page doctrinally and so I gave him the authority and liberty to speak as he felt directed by the Lord, to interpret my words and add anything else he felt was necessary. In the end, we were co-instructors of the seminar, and it was all the better for it.

To the best of my memory, the first time I taught The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ was in 2004 in Devon, England. I made countless revisions before I finished writing my book in 2010, and countless more since that then. I recorded an audio version in 2012, and put together my first PowerPoint presentation in 2018. I know I will never feel like I am "done" and I will never tire of teaching it. The subject is far too important and far too neglected. Wrong doctrine is not a nuisance to be overlooked. By the testimony of the scriptures, it is evil, and those who condone it are instruments of that evil:

2 John 1:9-10
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

I finished my final lesson on Friday morning, and afterwards Henry spent time alone with the students so he could speak without the need for interpreting for me. Afterwards, he told me what they'd talked about:

I can attest to the fact that this seminar was very fruitful. Tim did a great job of teaching and after the seminar many pastors told me this was a kind of teaching that is not common in churches though it should be the basic.
Many pastors from rural areas don't have proper doctrinal teaching so this was an answer to my prayer. This was the opening seminar of the training center which is going to help many pastors that can't afford Bible school training.

We left Iganga on Saturday, but only after what was supposed to be a brief stop at a trade school graduation where Henry had been asked to say a few words to the students. Things changed when the people in charge saw his foreign companion, and suddenly we were being served food and entertained with singers and dancers. Then it was me being introduced as the guest speaker. I was completely caught off-guard, and I stumbled over a few words of congratulation before turning things over to Henry who did the fine job he was prepared to do.

Due to all the added fuss made over me, our drive to Kampala began hours later than we'd planned, and Henry dropped me off in Kireka close to midnight.


I met Mugisha Goodman on my first trip to Uganda, and it was he who introduced me to Pastor Mary Kyaligamba and the congregation of the Kireka Church of God. I taught my Ministers' Training Series in Kireka in 2013 and again in 2014, and since that time I try to stop by whenever I am in Uganda. Pastor Mary, Sarah, Emma, Alan, Stella, and Edith and her children are all special friends to me. I was delighted to teach the Sunday service and spend such a relaxing time with them. I was completely dumbfounded when Sarah and her daughter Edith sewed two beautiful dresses each for my granddaughters, London and Anastasia.

Evening teachings at GEM

On Monday I returned to Nyanama just in time to begin three days of evening teachings, once again on The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ. This time a young man named Timothy served as my interpreter for all but the final lessons. I was quite tired by this time (I was still only getting about 3 hours of sleep each night) but the enthusiasm of the students gave me new strength.

It is a real privilege to be a trusted contributor to the work of Gospel Extension Ministries. I have nothing but the deepest respect for Henry and the work he is leading there. It is a real work of real faith. Do yourself a favor and invest in your treasures in heaven by supporting the work of GEM. Here is a link to the church's PayPal account.

Final Thoughts

Getting home again had its own little dramas, but by Saturday afternoon of February 2, I was finally home and (as Patsy Cline sings) "Back in Baby's Arms." That was 15 days ago, and it has taken me that long to start to feel like myself again! I feel so grateful for this mission to Uganda, and all that was accomplished. I don't know how many more missions are left for me, but if this was my last, I'd be more than satisfied that I went out with a bang and not a whimper. In the meantime, I will watch and wait for the Lord's leading for what comes next. Thank you SO MUCH for your help in making this mission a success!

In the Service of His Majesty, the King of kings,
Tim Sullivan


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